Day 8 (08/01/11)
Time to bid Penang goodbye and make for Langkawi. The ferry departs at 8:30 and it’s a short walk. I try to wake up with a coffee -a tepid, bad, hot cup of coffee. It almost works. I could have resorted to the tactic of the Moroccan woman beside me – who had a fight with her husband – and spill a quarter of it on my lap. I just drink the swill. Her husband arrives, not to apologize, and he’s a stereotypical hook-nosed, weak chinned loser, how he landed the woman he did… I assume arranged marriage and a monstrous dowry. She was a dusky, desert rose.
In line for the ferry, and why do people rush to get on boats and planes? Especially when the seats are assigned. They weren’t here but there wasn’t a good or bad seat on the ferry.
On the dock, and still in a line-up, I meet a still drunk Englishman. The sort of liquored lout who made Prague ban English stag weekends. He can barely stand and is still drunk from not sleeping the night before due to all the spirits and an early ferry. He tries to latch onto me and then this German guy with intense blue eyes. Artur (the German) and I band together to avoid being associated with the blotto Brit.
The ride is choppy, with the ship splashing up spray as it cuts through the waves. On free TV is the Expendables… all Sylvester Stallone movies are better without dialogue. When did Mickey Roarke rediscover his ability to act?
At the peer Artur requires food, a guy offers to split cab fare to Chanang Beach but Artur declines, saying hi might stay somewhere else. This will be Artur’s strongest trait, his blunt belief his way is the best way. For a few days he’ll prove to be a fine travel companion but I don’t think he and I would survive a long trip together. We travel for different reasons. Where does he want to eat… KFC. Really? Then in another character trait it proves impossible for him to order off a menu. He wants a chicken burger but with cheese but not the zesty cheesy spicy burger but something quite like it. And not the potato wedges but fries. I get a chicken burger and wedges but I feel dirty. I prefer local food, plus its cheaper than this western garbage.
Our taxi driver, Asad, is a riot and it’s a set rate of 24 Ringgits. It’s a 20KM ride too, so that’s a screaming good deal.
Naturally, we end up at Chanang Beach since I want to go there, that’s where the taxi goes and that’s where the people and guest houses are.
Geckos is full so we walk next door, it too is full, the next hotel is Daddy’s Guest House and for 40 Ringgits a night we have a shared room with a private bath. Daddy’s Guest House is about as grotty and scruffy as the name implies but no one comes to Langkawi to be roombound and I’ll only see it for sleeping.
The room isn’t quite ready and this proves painful for me as we drop our bags and do what tourists do in Langkawi, we hit the beach. It’s around 2PM and the sun scorches down, naturally I peel off my shirt and promptly fry. By tomorrow I’ll look like a cross between a lobster and my brother when he tries (and fails) to tan.
Artur and I walk up the beach and this is a beach. Not a man-made facade like Sentosa or a narrow swatch of sand like Batu Ferengi. At the point we see what appears to be a ‘bridge to nowhere’ near the airprot. Apparently it is a breakwater and a bridge to the rest of the island.
First on order is a beer. We stop at the luxury resort, since Langkawi is a duty free island, we know it should be cheap. 14 RM is not cheap when we find out it’s for a small bottle of Tiger we laugh and realize resorts the world over, over-charge. There will always be people with more money than sense. Literally 100M down the beach with nearly the same view, the Tigers are half price. Still a touch pricey but good enough. I peel off my shirt and this is where the sunburnening begins.
We then walk the length of the beach, it’s not a huge beach but it is lively with all sorts of options for guest’s holiday ringgits; island hopping, jet skiing, parasailing, banana boats, snorkelling and lots of cafes, restaurants and bars. Yes, there are souvenir shops and restaurants not on the beach, but no one comes here not to be at the beach.
Dinner is at Rafiis (but no baby baluga on the menu.) We meet Orhan from Switzerland, who Artur already met in Penang, and Absar.
“Where are you from?”
“The worst country,” says Absar.
Artur, Orhan and I look at Absar blankly. None of us can think of a ‘worst country.’
Ooh. Still I’m sitting with a German (Nazi), a Swiss (Nazi money launderer) and a Pakistani (terrorist) at least no one has issues with Canadians (or do they?)
Absar fits in perfectly when he pulls on a balacava. Yup, he can hang with us. We sit there for hours just chatting while the sun sets, the moon rises and the squid boats line the horizon. The drunk Brit makes and unwelcome return when his previous ‘friends’ cut bait and flee when he stumbles to the bar for an extended beer run. He invites himself to join us and offers two beers. At least its a gift until he offends Artur and the cold war breezes back onto the tropical Malaysian island. We go our separate ways with him saying bitterly, “well you could at least chip in a ringgit for the beer.” Really? You want us each to chip in 15-20 pence for beer you bought for others and only offered us when they abandoned you and you tried to bribe our friendship with?
I’ll see the Brit a couple more times on Langkawi. Generally alone or trying to insinuate himself with new people. He’s one of those people who’ll just never get why his ‘friends’ don’t last.
We stretch our legs because Absar needs to meet his father. I have no idea what his dad thought of meeting three drunk Westerners, but personally it was a howl to be meeting, greeting and shaking hands with a Pakistani patriarch.
Back at the beach, where we spy a campfire and invite ourself to join. It’s a Chinese group with enough English for a game of dare combined with Rock, Paper, Scissors. It must have been rigged since seven hands when scissors when I selected paper. Fixed! So that’s how I ended up singing a drunken serenade to some Swedes about how sexy I am.
We finish off the night at some ungodly hour smoking a hookah with more Germans. The tobacco claimed to be double apple. I recall no apple. The fact that I recall the hookah is something. I just don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing though.